I write this review while lazing on the balcony of my Junior suite, dappled in sunlight at the JW Marriott Venice. The outlook is not what you would expect of Venice; all I can hear is bird song, and all I can see is an expanse of green forested gardens with the odd glimpse of Venetian Lagoon through the trees.
This impressive luxury Marriott hotel opened in March 2015. Arrive by water taxi if you can. Not only is this a glamorous way to travel through Venice, but the dock at the JW Marriott is like something out of a Bond movie, providing a great first view of the property.
My experience with water taxis should have taught me to resist my childlike urge to stand up throughout a journey. But I can’t stop myself. I always stick my head out to catch the spray and views, and this time, my indulgence left me with a hairdo resembling that of a seafarer caught in a force 9.
This completely ruined my efforts to look stylish as we stepped off the boat into the cavernous dock under the hotel. Since my scarecrow entrance, the urge to poke my head out of the roof of the water taxi has remained. After almost knocking myself out on a low bridge in the center, I may eventually learn my lesson. Then again, isn’t racing through Venice on a speedboat with the wind in your hair part of the romance of Venice?
JW Marriott is the exclusive inhabitant of the small Venetian island of Isola Delle Rosa, one of the largest islands in the Venetian lagoon and the youngest. It was artificially created in 1870 with materials from the construction of the Santa Marta commercial port. On it, they built a hospital for those with pulmonary disorders so patients could leave the pollution and humidity of central Venice for this plant-filled, oxygen-rich retreat, complete with fresh onshore breezes. The hospital closed in the 1970s, and the island stayed abandoned until JW Marriott converted it into their beautiful hotel.
Isola Delle Rosa is perched on the edge of Venice but only 15 minutes from the center, with extremely regular and comfortable shuttles that whizz you right past the Kempinski Venice, the Cipriani and onto St Marks Square.
Style & Character
This lush green island houses the best Marriott I’ve ever stayed in. The main building sits in the center of the island and is home to most of the rooms, as well as the rooftop bar and pool. Outside, the entire island is yours to explore.
Wander along meandering paths past groves of olive trees and fields of poppies, and you’ll reach outbuildings, including some of the higher-end rooms with their own private pools. Continue to a church, herb garden, family pool, the Dopolavro Dining room, and the Gardino Grill, all set in a pretty garden. The Spa here is also immense and offers the same superb views across the water.
Most of the buildings are built either in red brick or come with a traditional white finish. All are originals that have been converted, so the look is of beautifully converted old outhouses and boathouses surrounded by greenery.
You can walk around the edge of the island or stick to the center as it isn’t huge but offers enough to keep you there for 4 or 5 days without getting bored – and I get easily bored. I can’t help thinking the church grounds and hotel here would make the perfect venue for a dreamy wedding.
If possible, request a room with a balcony or a terrace. Most Junior Suites (although not all) have them, but many of the base rooms don’t. Honestly, my stay wouldn’t have been complete without an expanse of outdoors all to myself.
The room itself (ours was a Junior Suite) was immaculate. The decor was white with oatmeal tones and modern in design, with double sliding doors into a large bathroom, home to a well-designed sink area that is perfect for laying out toiletries. A decent-sized free-standing bath sat in the center of the room with a rainforest shower and toilet cubicle to one side – the finishing touch is Roberto Cavalli toiletries.
Our Junior Suite was lovely and so quiet at night. My only criticism is that it didn’t feel like you in Venice. If you are looking for a hotel oozing character with quirky, charismatic rooms, then this isn’t it. If you are looking for a high-end, well-appointed room, you’ll be very hard-pressed at this price point to make a better choice.
For the last night, we decided to upgrade to a “La Residenza Pool De Luxe room” with its own private pool. The room was lovely but slightly smaller than the Junior Suite and darker than the rooms in the main building. It was designed with a single-glazed double door rather than the Suite’s large balcony windows.
The La Residenza Pool De Luxe room we stayed in was uniquely created in a box construction, somewhat like a pod, inside an old barn building. Like the Junior Suite, the room was fresh, modern, and wonderfully clean. The large bathroom contained all the modern fixtures and fittings you could desire, sharing the design of the Suite and using a free-standing bath as its focal point.
The room’s doors double doors open out onto the star attraction – your own private pool, which sports a decked area with loungers, a table, and chairs, and a mini lawn where you can sit and enjoy your very own private view of Venice. The pool itself was large enough for a lovely splash, complete with spa bubbles. It’s such fun and, honestly, as good as it looks in the pictures above!
Service & Facilities
The rooftop infinity pool, located just beyond a rooftop bar and restaurant area, seems to tick all the boxes, and in the main, it did. Gobsmackingly good views from comfy seating on a beautifully decked terrace. There’s always music playing in the background and plenty of daybeds and loungers.
Dip your foot in, and the pool is as warm as a slipper, perfect for lounging in the bubbles at the edge. Perfect, except for the fact it is incredibly shallow. The water level came up to my hips, and when I wanted to get from one side to the other, looking stylish and chic, I found myself crawling across the pool.
The kids were loving it, as even my four-year-old could touch the bottom, but my only effort at swimming a length was abruptly terminated by smashing both my knees on the bottom. The pool is perfect for lazing with mega views into Venice, sitting so close to the edge of the roof that you almost felt you could topple into the sea below, but for me, it was simply too shallow for a swim.
Thankfully, there is another outdoor “family” pool hidden away in the greenery of the island, which is a bit of a trek in your dressing gown but offers the option of swimming, along with some more extremely comfy loungers just across from a young kid’s play park.
Inspired by the personality of Venice with an Oriental feel, the JW Venice Spa Goco Spa is set in one of the outbuildings in a secluded corner the Isola delle Rose. The Spa is the largest in Venice with its 1,750 m² with a huge glass wall to the waterfront side of the building and a magnificent heated indoor swimming pool that extends outdoors, merging the outside and inside. The views across Venice from this Spa are both immense and serene.
Around the Spa pool, you find perfectly groomed lawns with tempting cabanas to relax on, which again look out onto the glorious Venice lagoon. They form a peaceful haven where you can spend hours meditating or simply recharging. The Spa itself has eight cabins with a view of the lagoon and a marvelous suite. A sauna, a Turkish bath with a wall of salt, and a gym complete the structure.
This is easily the most breathtaking and luxury Spa complex I have experienced, and it provided a level of relaxation you simply do not expect in Venice. The views, the building, and the experience are heavenly.
Food & Drink
You find creamy marble corridors, fun artwork, and flower arrangements dotted all around the ground floor. It’s really modern and incredibly spacious for Venice. I particularly loved the thick patterned glass panes exhibited throughout. A large and contemporary Foyer Piano bar spills out into the gardens on warmer nights. This bar is stylish with flowing muslins that blow in the breeze draped from the ceilings.
We chose to spend the start of our first evening amongst this lovely decor. Dress at the hotel is very casual, most guests being well turned out, but the clientele, who seemed to be largely Americans and British, were not the type to parade in the latest styles and couture. This gave the resort a relaxed, laid-back feel, more like you might find in Hawaii.
Behind the rooftop pool and loungers is a large expanse of decking edged by flowers and filled with comfy seats and sofas. It is a truly magical place to have an evening Bellini as you can watch the sunset over the domes of Venice and across the Adriatic. This is easily the most relaxing rooftop bar in Venice. We spent many an evening admiring the view, always finding something new to gaze at, with the attentive staff refilling our glasses well past sundown.
The sun is setting, and I am back on the balcony, tapping my thoughts into my laptop after a day of strolling the circumference of the island under drooping willow trees and across wild lawns strewn with poppies and clovers. It has been a perfect day, and I haven’t yet felt the need to pop over to central Venice! My keyboard tip-tapping is soothed by birdsong, rustling trees, and distant boats. It’s so relaxing that hubby has fallen asleep on a lounger, a brochure lying open in front of him advertising the resort’s newly opened Dopolavro restaurant with its 2 Michelin chef on his font – which alone will no doubt necessitate a return trip.
This resort is so idyllic, peaceful, and relaxing that you won’t want to leave. The craziness of St Mark’s Square, Gondolas, and tourists seem a world away, and for the next few days, I will keep it that way and remain in this little island paradise on the edge of Venice.
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